If you’ve been suffering from exhaustion, a feeling of emptiness and have been finding yourself snapping more easily you may be experiencing burnout. Burnout is a term coined in the 1970s by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger to describe the experience of extreme stress people feel in professional life. While it started off as a description for working professionals, burnout can apply to the effects of stress experienced by anyone.
Burnout isn’t just a problem for you though; it can become a problem for your company, your home and your personal relationships. Basically, it’s not fun. Hope is not lost though, burnout can be avoided by effectively managing stress and managed by developing clear boundaries and even just taking a break.
Symptoms of burnout
Burnout symptoms can present themselves both emotionally and physically and may be similar to symptoms of depression and stress. Common emotional symptoms include lack of energy to be productive, cynicism about your job (or whatever is causing your burnout), a difficult time concentrating, and irritability. Physical symptoms include headaches or stomach aches, and noticeable change in your sleeping habits (i.e. suddenly sleeping way more or not being able to sleep at all). If your symptoms get serious, going to a doctor is a good idea and may help you manage them, it’s a lot easier to create a plan to deal with stress when you’re getting a full night’s sleep and your head doesn’t hurt!
Causes of burnout
It’s assumed that burnout is simply a cause of working too much but there are actually several factors that may be contributing to your symptoms. If you feel like you can’t control your extreme stress, it may be a result of some of the following:
Work-life imbalance, meaning you work well above 40 hours a week or you are available to your colleagues after working hours and on weekends. This imbalance makes it difficult to spend time with your family or friends or practice any self-care.
Intense pressure to succeed from your boss, your colleagues, people in your personal life, or even yourself can put extreme pressure on you and actually make it more difficult to get work done. If everything you do has to be perfect or better than everyone else you will likely burnout quickly.
Constant social media consumption, though a part of most of our lives, can actually lead to burnout. Specifically during times of stress in the world, your country or your community when you may be exposed to constant violence or upsetting images online. Burnout from social media can happen at any time though because filling up all your free time with constant new information doesn’t give your brain time to rest.
Dysfunctional workplace dynamics of lack of support are a very common cause of workplace stress. If your relationship with your boss or coworkers are fraught or you don’t feel that you’re getting the support you need, you may become disillusioned with your job and slip quickly into burnout.
Lack of control, even if you’re the kind of person who likes to take direction, can make you feel lost and unable to manage your work schedule. If you don’t have control over at least some part of what you do and how you do it, you may end up burnt out and exhausted. This lack of control can show up not just in lack of personal workplace autonomy but also when your schedule is inconsistent or your workplace has unclear expectations.
Freeing yourself from burnout
Burnout is rough. It feels hopeless and difficult to deal with, but it is important to remember that you’re not the only person to feel this way and there are some lifestyle and workplace changes that can make a world of difference. Looking at the causes above, you may start to identify the root cause of your burnout and begin thinking about ways to help yourself.
If you lack boundaries at work, consider creating some. Ok, it’s not that easy but identifying where you may need boundaries is a good place to start. The good news is, stress can be managed, burnout can be prevented and you won’t feel this tired forever. If your work situation cannot be changed or you’re not in a position to find a less stressful environment you can try managing stress as it comes up. Yoga and meditation are both effective stress management techniques and journaling or reading a book or magazine are good alternatives to scrolling through social media.
Burnout can feel scary, overwhelming and isolating but it can be dealt with and managed. It’s also relatively common, so chances are, if you bring it up to someone you trust, they’ll be able to relate and empathize or at least help you come up with a plan for managing your stress. For more tips on managing stress, come back soon or find us on instagram!